With the 32nd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected Lewis Cine. The safety out of Georgia was hot off the heels of a brilliant season that culminated in a Georgia Bulldogs National Championship. Cine was an integral part of Georgia’s championship recipe, and certainly caught the eyes of scouts and analysts across the NFL world.
Lewis Cine was nothing short of dominant in his 2021 season with UGA. He ended the season as the Bulldogs’ leading tackler with 73 total stops and led the team in pass breakups with a total of 10. His outstanding performances led to his selection in the AP All-SEC 1st Team, and the Coaches’ All-SEC 2nd Team. Cine was also listed as a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award – a trophy given to the nation’s best defensive back. And on top of all that, Cine’s last game as a Bulldog was the national championship game in which he was named the defensive MVP with 7 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pass breakup.
There was no question that Lewis Cine would be no less than a 2nd round pick in the NFL draft, and first-year Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah saw something special in Cine that prompted him to select him 32nd overall in 2022.
We did not get to see a lot of Lewis Cine before the rookie suffered a compound fracture in his lower left leg on October 2 against the New Orleans Saints in London, just 4 weeks into the season. He was carted off the field and taken to a hospital where he had a series of surgeries, not returning to Minnesota for about a week. Vikings fans were gutted that they hardly got to see their shiny new first-round pick in action, and the Vikings coaching staff was devastated to lose yet another defensive back due to injury.
But despite Cine’s unfortunately abridged rookie season, there is a lot that we can look forward to regarding this young safety. Cine is one of the most entertaining safeties to watch because of his great size-speed combination and tackling ability. He is an extremely hard-hitting safety that has been described as a “Violent downhill hitter who will terrify receivers over the middle.” He has good straight-line speed and good balance, along with the ability to fluidly change direction and diagnose plays. He is brilliant in the running game, reading the play, blowing through the lead blocker, and bringing down the runner in spectacular fashion. Cine is also a leader with a great head on his shoulders. He has always had a focused, “NFL” mentality and is all about business.
“Nothing is going to keep me from playing next season, so I’ll do what I got to do in rehab and come back.” Lewis Cine is certain of his return next season and will be looking to make an impact on the team that drafted him with their first pick in the draft.
All this is not to say that Cine will return in September and put together an all-pro season, but approaching a year in which the Vikings’ defense might look completely different, Cine could be an instrumental addition to a defensive/special teams unit that needs some talent. He is by no means the perfect prospect, but it’s hard to look at Cine without seeing the jarring amount of upside inside that 6’2”, 200-pound frame.